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The Black Summer

최종 수정일: 2023년 12월 27일

By: Sooa Hong


Bushfires in Australia are common, regular occurrences that have shaped much of the continent’s nature and land from the beginning of its existence. Due to the extremely high temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds, conditions in Australia provide an ideal environment for the creation and rapid spread of fire. In fact, ever since 1851, bushfires have killed approximately 800 people and billions of animals.


The fires have posed great danger to citizens living in Australia, but it has been a common sight as they have been caused by the natural phenomenon where on average, approximately 350 Mha is burnt globally every year. As Australia is one of the driest continents in the world, despite the destruction, bushfires have been viewed as natural causes. However, the most recent bushfire season of 2019 to 2020, which was centered in southeastern Australia and also called the “Black Summer,” has been the biggest and most catastrophic season in history ever since the beginning of the European settlement. In all, the destruction has claimed 28 lives of humans, more than 1.25 billion lives of animals, more than 3,000 homes, and an economic loss of over $110 billion (80조 원).


The reason behind the destruction is as follows: in 2019, the temperature of the Indian Ocean increased to 2°, the second-highest peak in the past few decades. Global warming, according to scientists, is the key factor in creating dramatic change. The ocean absorbs 90% of the heat coming from the sun, and when the heat becomes abnormally high due to the effects of global warming, impacts equivalent to about 4 to 5 atomic bombs are exploded every second. As a side effect, natural disasters like excessive hail, rain, wind, temperatures, and the topic at hand, excessive wildfires are being created. Even the smallest fires stimulated had the potential to destroy all of Australia.


The 2019-2020 wildfire season, or the Black Summer, was largely unprecedented for locals. Its beginning dates back to September 2019 when the flames arrived with rising high temperatures and longer droughts. In January 2020, heavy rain fell upon the region but it was not close to a sufficient amount of water in extinguishing the fires as they were enormous in size. Then during mid-February 2020, ever-increasing temperatures, droughts, and high winds exacerbated the situation and the crisis came back even stronger than before.


Finally, after nine months of constant burning, all fires were extinguished and contained on March 4, 2020, finally through excessive amounts of rainfall of about 350 mm daily in the last two months. Nine entire months of constant destruction marked an immense scar on the island, with 120,000 km² of its area completely burned. To compare, it has destroyed land bigger than South Korea, which has around 100,000 km² in total area. Furthermore, 14% of all forests and over 20,000 farms were damaged.


The Black Summer of 2019-2020 should have been a wake-up call and a stark reminder that changes in reducing global warming and climate change should be acted upon immediately; however, people of the world are still refusing to acknowledge the devastation humanity is causing itself. The catastrophic losses of lives, animals, homes, and nature are devastating but not enough to stimulate everyone in the world to come together in helping reduce misconduct against the environment. When will it be enough for climate action? It is time for taking measures and finding solutions to these problems.

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Works Cited:

"2019–20 Australian Bushfire Season." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Apr. 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_Australian_bushfire_season. Accessed 29 Apr. 2023.

Deb, Proloy & Hamid, Moradkhani & Abbaszadeh, Peyman & Kiem, Anthony & Engström, Johanna & Keellings, David & Sharma, Ashish. (2020). Causes of the Widespread 2019-2020 Australian Bushfire Season. Earth's Future. 8. e2020EF001671. 10.1029/2020EF001671.

"2019-2020 Australian Bushfires." CDP, 14 Oct. 2020, disasterphilanthropy.org/disasters/2019-australian-wildfires/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2023.

호주 산불의 악몽은 시작에 불과하다! 2℃ 수온 상승이 불러온 공포의 나비효과 #highlight #벌거벗은세계사 EP.75. TvN, 2023.

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